Nkandla report: clock is ticking

Cape Town -

The clock is ticking towards Wednesday’s release of the public protector’s probe into Nkandla. But whether it will lead to an easing of the political pressure on Thuli Madonsela remains to be seen.

President Jacob Zuma's well-secured home in Nkandla. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo. Credit: INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

At the weekend, the ANC downplayed the possible impact of the report, months after the governing party issued crib sheets to its electioneering volunteers on how to answer any prickly questions about the R208 million taxpayer-funded security upgrades at President Jacob Zuma’s rural homestead.

On the campaign trail in Sasolburg, Public Service and Administration Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said: “I hope she has completed her investigation because for an investigation of this magnitude, I don’t think she has given herself enough time.”

Meanwhile, City Press cited unnamed sources, saying the ANC and allies such as the SACP would downplay the findings and instead focus on discrediting the report.

Commenting on remarks by outgoing National Planning Minister Trevor Manuel that attacks on institutions like the public protector would damage South Africa’s constitutional democracy, Sapa quotes ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe as saying “we do not attack the public protector, but criticise her when we feel we should”.

These comments follow days after a group of bishops representing independent African churches last week criticised the public protector for “poisoning the atmosphere”. Earlier this month, the ANC in eThekwini marched against the public protector, accusing her of withholding her Nkandla report.

This week, Pubic Works Minister Thulas Nxesi confirmed in a parliamentary reply that the auditor-general and the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) were also conducting probes into the spending at Nkandla. This matter first arose in the security ministers’ court papers filed in December, when it emerged that during a series of meetings between Madonsela and the security ministers there had been a push to have her probe stand aside for investigations by the auditor-general and the SIU.